Gennadius Library acquires an exceedingly rare Ottoman map

The Gennadius Library purchased a very rare issue of one of the most iconic Ottoman works of visual propaganda. Entitled ‘Revenge,’ the map laments the loss of numerous European Ottoman territories during the Balkan Wars, with the forfeited lands dramatically bathed in black.

This extremely rare poster-size map was commissioned by the ruling ‘Young Turk’ regime during the height of World War I in 1916. In the wake of the Balkan Wars (1912-3), the Ottoman Empire lost the great majority if its Southern Balkans territories to Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.

While this map was by far the grandest and best-known version of the ‘black map’ of Rumelia, many small-scale iterations appeared in books and pamphlets, drafted by different artists in various forms and styles.

Printed on cheap, fragile newsprint-like paper, the map is a rather ephemeral piece that survived because it was safely stashed away for generations. The map is considered an outstanding rarity. The image is today well known in Turkey where some original examples can be found in various institutions, but no copies have been traced outside of Turkey.

This new acquisition complements the outstanding map collection of the Gennadius Library consisting of 3,000 historical maps of Greece, the Balkans and Turkey that span a period from the late fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Most of the maps of the Ottoman Empire in the Gennadius Library were printed in Europe.

Until January 15, 2021 the map can be admired in the Ion Dragoumis between East and West exhibition in the I. Makriyannis Wing.